Family of Doha triplets: 'Our lives will never be as full'
Tue, 29 May 2012 11:51a.m.
By Kim Choe with online staff
New Zealand Embassy staff from Saudi Arabia are on their way to Qatar's capital Doha to assist New Zealanders affected by a large fire at a shopping centre there.
Two-year-old New Zealand triplets - Jackson, Willsher and Lillie Weekes - were among those killed in the fire, which also claimed 16 other lives.
Their parents - Martin and Jane Weekes - had been living in Doha for six years.
The children’s grandfather Rod Turner spoke to 3 News this morning saying the family’s life has changed forever.
"Our lives will never be as full, we will never be as happy," he says.
Mrs Weekes came to New Zealand and had the triplets in Wellington. They were born premature, but Mr Turner says they were "fighters".
Prime Minister John Key says it is a “tragic day” for the family.
“The family are obviously dealing with the terrible grief they have at this time.
“It’s a very tragic day for that family. They have been working in Qatar for some time.”
Among the sixteen dead were four teachers and two firefighters.
As smoke billowed from the up market Villagio shopping centre, rescuers pulled children through the roof, after they became trapped in the mall's crèche.
Al Jazeera journalist Mereana Hond told Firstline this morning there was chaos inside the shopping mall when the fire broke out.
“What we're also hearing is that the staircase which was leading up to where the children were in the daycare centre, collapsed, which is why it was difficult to reach them.”
The Italian-themed mall is a favourite with expats, who say it is lucky the fire did not happen in the weekend.
Emergency crews battled the blaze for more than two hours, after it broke out at about 11am local time.
But the Interior Ministry says the rescue effort was hindered by malfunctioning sprinkler systems and a lack of floor plans for the shopping centre.
Questions are now being asked about whether the country's health and safety regulations are up to scratch.
“Qatar's in a booming period,” says Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Dekker. “There's a lot of building going on here. Malls are still going up, buildings, businesses - everything.”
It is not yet known how the fire started, but officials say a full investigation is underway.
The grandparents of the New Zealand victims are flying to Doha tonight.
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30/05/2012 5:17:49 p.m.
Tania dos santos wrote:
As a mother myself I cannot begin to imagine the pain the family must be in! My deepest thoughts and Arohanui go out to the family in this terrible time! May God give you the strength to somehow get thought this! Love fri Dubai!
30/05/2012 1:42:56 a.m.
Iunesi Afele wrote:
My condolances to da family of a 3 triplets who die on a fire yesterday.. im sori for da lost of ur own.. May God be with you Parents, nd all ur familyz. the pain of your families no one couldn't emagine right now.Sympathies are with you all..
29/05/2012 6:25:13 p.m.
Fatima - from Doha wrote:
All Doha people are with you in this tragedy accept my heartfelt condolences at your loss
29/05/2012 6:17:21 p.m.
Joey Lavea wrote:
I couldn't even begin to imagine the pain that the families are experiencing right now, especially if they are children. I would normally not comment but to watch a family lose 3 like this was devastating for my wife and I to watch. Our deepest condolences and sympathies are with you.
29/05/2012 2:58:57 p.m.
Trish Heikoop wrote:
My heart goes out to this family. This is an unbearable amount of grief for these parents and extended family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
29/05/2012 2:02:29 p.m.
I would not normally comment on an article such as this in deference to family, but this once, I feel I must. Please Weekes family, accept my heartfelt condolences at your loss. I can imagine nothing worse
29/05/2012 1:47:53 p.m.
You poor family. You must be totally devistated. The whole world has their thoughts and sympathy with you. Lots of Arohanui from New Zealand. Be strong xx
29/05/2012 1:47:24 p.m.
Frank Phillips wrote:
My heart goes out to these people. This is so very sad. I'm sure I am not alone when I say that the thoughts of the nation are with them in their time of need.
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